top of page

States of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone jackets: there are more than two!

1st Edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released over 20 years ago AND incredibly, the 1st edition book is STILL in print. Needless to say, in the 20+ years the 1st edition of this book has been in print, changes have happened, AND these changes can affect value. AND in book terms, these changes are what create different states of the book. As a reminder, a State in relation to books is when small changes are made, but these changes aren’t enough for a new edition to be printed. Throughout these years, the jacket has changed the most. So, what are the changes?

The 1st state jacket is the most well known it seems, in the mainstream Potterverse. This jacket is the one that's also most collectible and most frequently paired with the 1st print Sorcerer's Stone book, and this pairing is the most valuable of all the Sorcerer's Stone books (unless discussing signed books).

All 1st edition Sorcerer's Stone jackets have RAISED gold foil lettering on the front and spine of the jacket, texture to the jacket, a price on the front inside flap, and two barcodes (a long one and shorter, smaller one) inside a box on the backside of the jacket. But here is where variation begins.

Okay. So why does jacket state matter if the book itself is a 1st print, 1st edition Sorcerer's Stone (SS)? The first state of the SS jacket is by far the most valuable–in fact first print SS books without this valuable and highly collectible jacket do not sell well. I have seen many first print SS books in later state jackets hang out on eBay for quite along time at low price points (around $300-$400). These first print books simply don’t sell, or at least not well, without this all-important first state jacket because collectors essentially view first print books without the first state jackets as jacketless books as they are still going to have to find a first state jacket to really have the book they want for their collection. I have also seen first state jackets alone (no book included) sell for upwards of $100.00 in fine condition. The Guardian Quote is by far the most valuable factor of the first state jacket. The thought behind why a quote from a UK publication was used is that there weren’t any from American sources when the book was published for the first print run of 30,000 - 35,000 US books.

Shortly into the book’s early print history, some even think as early as the second print, the quote on the back was changed to the ubiquitous Publisher’s Weekly quote, which reads, “A delightful award winning debut from an author who dances in the footsteps of P.L. Travers and Roald Dahl“. This brings us to the second state jacket.

The second state jacket looks almost like the first (cream colored bar code on the back with 51695 inside it, price of $16.95, JK Rowling to spine, and no “1″ on the spine) except that this jacket carries the Publisher’s Weekly quote.

Quickly after this second state jacket was introduced, another small change took place–the JK Rowling on the spine was changed to Rowling; however, there is still no “1″ underneath her name. This is a third state jacket.

Later states followed in quick succession with a “1″ being added underneath Rowling on the jacket’s spine in early print history, and price changes as the book became more popular. These price changes would be mirrored in the back bar code as well–for example, when the price changed to $17.95, the back bar code also changed to 51795). Really, after the “1″ was added to the spine, the rest of the state changes have to do with price; the bar code color also changed from cream to a pink color early on as well, but I am not exactly sure when this change occurred; I do know books priced at $19.95 have the pink barcode, however. Additionally, most collectors, unless they are after every SS jacket ever printed, do not care much about so-called later state jackets because there are just so many of them around. I myself purchase books with earlier state jackets and to make the searching easy, I look for the cream-colored bar codes–these still hold some collectible value on the market and I just think they’re prettier.

First state jackets can be found on 2nd print books (I’ve not seen anything other than a 1st or 2nd print book with a first state jacket), making these second prints with these first state jackets highly sought after. Second and first print books can also be found with later state jackets (resulting from jacket switching at some point in time), making the books overall much less collectible and valuable. Again, to have the most valuable Sorcerer’s Stone (unsigned), the book must be a first print, 1st edition and the jacket must be a first state (of course condition matters in pricing too, but that’s not what we’re discussing today).

To wrap up, there are many different states of the Sorcerer’s Stone jacket, not just two. And, a first print book without the first state jacket just doesn’t sell well–it’s the combo collectors really want.

Brief Summary of Jacket States:

-1st State Jacket AKA The Guardian Jacket

a) Guardian quote found on the back of the jacket

b) J.K. Rowling on the top spine of the jacket

c) No "1" on the jacket spine

d) $16.95 price; 51695 above the smaller back barcode inside the cream box

-2nd State Jacket a) Publisher Weekly quote on the back of the jacket -- from here onward, this quote will be on every 1st edition book

b) J.K. Rowling on the Spine

c) No "1" on the jacket spine

d) $16.95 price; 51695 above the smaller back barcode inside the cream box

-3rd State Jacket

a) Publisher Weekly quote on the back of the jacket

b) Rowling on the top of the spine

c) No "1" on the spine

c) $16.95 price; 51695 above the smaller back barcode inside the cream box

-4th State Jacket

a) Publisher Weekly quote on the back of the jacket

b) Rowling on the Spine top